The Great Hunt: Chapter 30
Author: Estyrien al'Halien
Chapter Icon: Rising Sun
Point of View: Rand
While Rand is out of the Inn, the Darkfriends steal the Horn back, injuring Hurin, just before the others arrive.
Rand thinks about the Illuminators' chapter house and how "the Illuminators were on everyone's tongues". He hopes that "no one had been hurt in the fire" but he cannot know for sure as the Illuminators hadn't even "admitted that there had been a fire". Rand turns his attention to Hurin and becomes irritated that he became "more formal every day that they remained in Cairhien". He is angry that Hurin now calls him "my Lord" and that he bows to Rand most of the time. When Rand shouts at him and then apologises, Hurin simply tells him "It's your right, my Lord".
Their conversation is interrupted when Cuale, the innkeeper, delivers two letters to Rand personally. These letters "are from Lord Barthanes, High Seat of House Damodred, and from (...) the King". Each is sealed with the personal seal of the two men; Galldrian's Stag and Barthanes' Charging Boar. Rand's first instinct is to throw the letters into the fire like the rest but both Loial and Hurin object. Rand explains that if he goes to one, "the Cairhienin will read something into it". He will treat the letters as he has treated the others so he won't be "for anyone in Cairhien", nor against them.
Loial and Hurin explain to him that it won't work like that; "whatever you do, Cairhienin will see some sort of plot in it". Hurin explains that the lesser Houses haven't acted further because they believe that "you must have powerful allies to risk insulting them". If Rand burns the two invitations, he will insult both the King and the second most powerful Lord in Cairhien and "they'll act for sure". Also, burning the letters will mean that he isn't allied with either the King or Barthanes and so the other Houses can act on his insult. According to Hurin, the "Houses in Cairhien use killers, now".
Loial suggests that they go to both but Hurin explains that it wouldn't work, "you don't know Daes Dae'mar". The King and Barthanes are bitter enemies so if Rand accepts both, they will each see him as a spy for the other. If he only accepts one, he will certainly be a spy. Either way "they'll use the knife and poison". Rand suggests that he'll "let them see me in the common room with these", the seals unbroken. This way both Houses will know that he hasn't opened the letters and it'll hopefully buy them time.
Rand then does this and he and Loial go the gates to see if Ingtar has arrived, leaving Hurin to guard the Horn. Whilst they walk they try to find a way to escape, since "this trick with the invitations can't work more than two or three days". They agree that they can't ride out of the city, "since Fain is out there", and joining a merchant train won't work either. Darkfriends will be watching the docks so they can't leave through the Foregate docks and the city docks are "reserved for grain barges and the pleasure craft of the lords and ladies". Stedding Tsofu is near Cairhien but Fain wouldn't "let us get that far without attacking".
When they arrive guardhouse at the edge of the city, Rand thinks that he saw "a man dressed in what had once been good Shienaran clothes" but he dismisses it when he can't see the man anymore. They enter the guardhouse and ask the guardsman if Ingtar or Selene have entered the city. Whilst they talk, Rand spots Caldevwin but the guardsman denies that he is there. He also denies that Ingtar or Selene have entered the city. Rand knows that the man is lying, "he could be lying about all of it", but he can't do anything about it so they return to the inn. When they near the inn, they see that "there's a fire up ahead".
Rand realises that although Trollocs cannot come into the city, Darkfriends can. They see Cuale "directing men carrying furnishings" but not Hurin. Cuale hasn't seen Hurin either, "no doubt he went out", but Rand and Loial know that Hurin wouldn't leave the Horn. Both Rand and Loial go into the burning inn to retrieve Hurin and the Horn despite warnings not to, "You cannot go up there, my Lord". They find that their room "had not caught yet" but see Hurin's sprawled body on the floor. Hurin is obviously injured, "there was a lump on the side of his head", and the Horn is gone. The Darkfriends that started the fire had obviously hit Hurin and taken the Horn during the confusion. Loial takes Hurin out onto the street but Rand goes to his room to retrieve the banner, "Your life may depend on it. Aes Sedai never lie".
Rand snatches up his saddlebags, including both the banner and Thom's flute, and "threw himself back through the door", seconds before the ceiling gave way. He then goes out onto the street and finds Loial and Hurin. Rand tries to find someone to help Hurin, "a woman who knows herbs and healing", but the Reader, apparently the Cairhienin equivalent to a Wisdom, tells Rand that "something is broken inside his head". They are interrupted by Perrin, Mat and Ingtar who have just arrived. Rand then tells them "You came too late" and begins to laugh.
- Does not take the opportunity to buy the plain wool coat he has been longing for.